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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 August 2006, 20:57 GMT 21:57 UK
'Toxic ship' reaches Indian state
Blue Lady
The Blue Lady was once the pride of the French shipping industry
A controversial asbestos-lined former ocean liner, The Blue Lady, has arrived in Alang in the western Indian state of Gujarat to be scrapped.

Port officer Anil Rathore told Press Trust of India that the ship known in its glory days as the SS France would be broken up in a month's time.

Indian Supreme Court experts earlier cleared its entry for breaking.

Environmentalists have protested against the ship's entry, saying it contains asbestos and toxic waste.

'Pressure for clearance'

The 11-storey, 315-metre-long, liner, which was relaunched as the SS Norway after leaving French service in the 1970s, entered Indian waters in July.

For a French person, scrapping le France is like dismantling the Tower of London for a Briton
Jean Philippe Prieur
Spokesman for campaign to save the SS France

"The Blue Lady has beached today [Tuesday] after completing all formalities required," Mr Rathore said.

"It should be ready for dismantling in a month's time."

Environmental groups say the ship contains 1,200 tonnes of cancer-causing toxic waste, which the workers at Alang - the world's biggest breaking yard - are not equipped to handle.

Greenpeace alleges that the court experts were "under intense pressure to give clearance to the vessel for beaching".

Alang map

The liner was the pride of the French shipping industry and many ship-lovers and ecologists proposed to convert it into a floating hotel or a museum.

Artist Salvador Dali and pop star David Bowie have been among its celebrity passengers.

In February, the French government recalled the decommissioned aircraft carrier Clemenceau en route to Alang, after a lengthy campaign by Greenpeace and other environmental groups.


SEE ALSO
'Toxic ship' cleared for breaking
02 Aug 06 |  South Asia
Surreal times on the SS France
12 Jun 06 |  Europe

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